To offer a blog post this morning that does not lift up the recent tragedy in Florida seems unthinkable- social media has been flooded in the past three days with calls for prayer and action, outrage, despair, grief and sorrow. I have watched this week as posts on Facebook have exploded like land mines- a call to prayer is criticized for being “not enough,” a call in another post to shut down the corrupt political machine fueled by the NRA turns into a battle over Second Amendment rights, a third post that begins with a plea for gun law reform (banning bump stocks and assault rifles) takes a strange turn towards demanding the banning of all immigration into our country. There has been finger pointing; disrespectful, narrow, angry “dialogue” and unhelpful assumptions made in these pages. America is bleeding words and in great pain.
As a religious leader, I will always begin with and return to prayer. Action is also an integral part of the Christian Way; I will act, and have offered avenues for others to join me. Jesus told us to feed the hungry, and bind up the wounds of those who are bleeding and to clothe the naked, not only to pray about them. I will do that. I hope that those of you who are looking for leadership in your religious and spiritual journey through the chaos and pain that our country is in today will join together and follow the leaders whom you find inspiring and powerful. Spiritual practices and religious communities are important in these times. My first impulse, deep inside, in moments of sorrow and tragedy like this is to want to move far, far, far away to an island in Maine. To find a small house on a windswept bluff with a calico cat, white curtains blowing in the breeze and a cup of lemon verbena tea waiting for me on the soft pine kitchen table. To fill my days with gardening, reading, meditating, swimming, praying and cooking. To knead bread and train sweet pea vines around the doorway. This is an “escape fantasy” that is my release valve when I am overwhelmed. And, it is thoroughly un-Christian. While the Christian tradition does have a place for hermits, or “solitaries,” the real challenge of the Christian life is to live in community and to practice the tenets of our faith- striving for love, justice and peace- in the middle of our world- in its beauty and in its messes, in the moments of joy and in the horror of school shootings. And so- I have never left, in real time, for that Maine cabin, but have only allowed my mind to go there, briefly, as I gather strength and courage and energy for living the Christian Way.
I am, right now, a little overwhelmed by the vitriol on Facebook as we seek to blame anyone other than our own selves for this tragedy, and, honestly, I am prepared to be equally despairing when, in a week’s time, we will be back to posting pictures of funny animal antics and what’s on our dinner plates.
How are you in these days?
What practices are you engaged in that not only soothe your troubled soul, but lead towards change and healing?
What do you need from Christian community right now?